Tag: home

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Fall in a dish! Here’s our take on a classic roasted butternut squash. As you know, we like to keep it simple at Sweet Laurel, and here we let the flavors of the butternut squash shine amongst delicious cashew creme, pomegranate seeds and a dash of fresh parsley.

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate \\ Sweet Laurel

Maple Roasted Butternut Squash with Cashew Creme and Pomegranate


 

Ingredients:

1-2 butternut squash

1 cup cashews

1/2 cup coconut milk

1 tablespoon lemon

1/2 teaspoon salt (divided)

2 tablespoons coconut oil

1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)

1/2 cup pomegranate

1 teaspoon cinnamon (optional)

Chopped parsley for garnish


 

Directions:

Preheat oven to 400.

Place cashews in a bowl with 2 cups of filtered water. Set in the refrigerator for 1-2 hours to soak.

Prepare butternut squash by washing the outside, cutting them in half and de-seeding. Lightly salt the squashes with 1/4 teaspoon of the salt. Rub the flesh of the squash with coconut oil. Optional: you can add cinnamon & maple syrup here for added flavor. 

Place butternut squash cut side down on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. Roast for 1 hour, then remove pan from oven and allow them to cool.

Meanwhile, finish the cashew creme. After the cashews have soaked for about an hour, remove the cashews from the refrigerator. Pour the cashews into a high-speed blender or food processor, but do not toss the liquid just yet. You may need this during the processing. Combine the coconut milk, lemon and remaining salt in the blender. Blend the cashew creme on full speed until completely smooth, about 1-2 minutes. If the mixture is too thick, add a bit of the soaking liquid, blending until desired consistency is reached. Pour the cashew creme into a container and store in refrigerator until serving time.

To serve, place butternut squash cut side up on plate. Drizzle cashew creme over squash, then sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and parsley. Enjoy!

The First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

The last seven months have been an absolute joy! Nico is a bright light in our lives and a constant reminder of the goodness and love new life brings. I wanted to share a bit about my recent transition from life as a wife and business owner into life as a new mom, wife, and business owner, and the balancing act therein.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Here’s a fun little background story: When my husband was a little boy, he told his mom she had an easy job. She was a stay at home mom with three boys, all close in age. Although she was slightly offended by Nick’s comment, she knew he would see for himself in the years to come. Boy, has he! We have now both witnessed the time and commitment babies bring.

If I’ve learned one thing during this journey, it is balance. Being a parent is a full-time job. I respect all of you who are participating in this noble duty. Add in the day job, and that’s another story. If I want to enjoy being a mother and a good partner to my husband while running a business, I’m learning that I need to seek balance every day in my life. My mentor once told me, ‘Balance does not come in a day, but over time.’ If Nick and I make daily choices to support a more balanced approach to life, we will eventually be in a beautifully balanced life.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Although days are filled with baby, meetings, house chores, emails and lots of baking for Sweet Laurel, I try to do at least one thing every day that’s for pure joy. For me, these activities include going for a walk, taking a yoga class or going in a sauna. I also get a lot of joy out of making dinner for my husband and I, which is a daily priority. I know this about myself and have learned to schedule my day accordingly. Obviously, there are days when this just can’t happen because of schedules, etc., but like I said, we strive for balance over time.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Nico has reminded me to stop and enjoy moments. When I am working at home and he is crawling around laughing at random things in the house, occasionally I will drop everything and just hang out with him for a bit. After all, he’s only going to be a precious baby for so long. I wanted to share these gorgeous family photos by my talented friend Elsie Dardon. She’s helping Nick and I document life with our Sweet Nico.

First Seven Months with Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Enjoy these photos, and feel free to give me some advice about the motherhood balancing act or share your stories with me!

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Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Beautycounter is my go-to for all things safe beauty. I don’t wear a ton of make up, but when I do, everything I wear is from Beautycounter.  I am happy to say Beautycounter is a company we’ve worked with regularly at Sweet Laurel. They have partnered with us at events, hosted workshops with us and shared our recipes!

I trust their products, and can confidently wear them without worrying about toxic chemicals seeping through my pores. Recently, I’ve re-thought everything I put on my face and body because I’ve been pregnant and breastfeeding for the past year. Make up and beauty products tend to have ingredients that are highly toxic, and unfortunately the United States does not monitor what companies put into their products. For example, the European Union has banned 1,400 chemicals from use in beauty products. That means beauty and make up products are far safer in Europe then in America! Fortunately, Beautycounter has come to the scene here in the states. Their goal is to create beauty products that are safe to use, sans chemicals, with high quality, long lasting appeal. As you can see, I love Beautycounter and what they stand for.

I was overjoyed last year when I discovered Beautycounter launched a baby line! I got my hands on a couple of their products, and have already used them on Nico! Nico has sensitive skin, so I’m super careful with what I use for soap, lotion, etc. Fortunately, the products have worked great for Nico, and we both love using them!

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

Baby Beautycounter \\ Sweet Laurel

I highly recommend the diaper rash cream and gentle all over wash. They also have this roomy diaper bag! I don’t know about you, but for me, I always need more room in my diaper bag. This one sure does the trick!

Something else I love about Beautycounter is how spot on their packaging is. Always simple, chic and beautiful. They nailed it! I hope you are able to get your hands on Beautycounter soon! I know you (and your baby) will be glad you did. xo, Laurel

Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding \\ Sweet Laurel

 

 

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School is back in session, and it is time for a quick and easy breakfast classic. Our favorite chia seed pudding is simple and nutritious. We start with delicious and organic coconut cream. Coconut cream is the solid coconut fat that firm up at the top of canned coconut milk. You can find canned Coconut Cream at grocery stores now with higher percentages of fat, and lower percentages of coconut milk, yielding more creamy deliciousness. If you cannot find coconut cream, feel free to use good canned coconut milk, with no additives. Simply scoop the solids from the top of the can for your use in this recipe.

And back to the chia seed pudding… I said it was simple, and I mean it’s simple! We mix the coconut cream with chia, slightly mashed berries, raw honey and lemon juice to create a satisfying and delightful breakfast or even a special after dinner treat!

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Our Favorite Chia Seed Pudding

Serves 2

1 cup refrigerated coconut cream* (Lets Do Organic and Trader Joe’s both have delicious organic canned Coconut Creams)

1/2 cup fresh blueberries and raspberries, lightly smashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon raw honey (optional)

3 tablespoons chia seeds

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (optional)

In a bowl, stir together all ingredients until well mixed. Pour into two 4 ounce glass jars and cover with lid. Store in fridge overnight. Serve with extra berries. Enjoy within 3 days.

* I always keep my coconut cream in the refrigerator. This is because I make a lot of coconut whipped cream and coconut yogurt. These recipes work better when the coconut is solid and not liquid. Refrigerating coconut milk causes the fat to rise to the top of the can and solidify.

What’s In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

I love this interview I did with The Chalkboard Mag! They took a look in my fridge and I got to share a little about my love of all things Sweet Laurel! One thing that’s apparent here, is that I’m a veggie lover! Yes, I know Sweet Laurel is all about sweets, but let me introduce you to savory Laurel! I sure eat my fair share of veggies. If you have any questions about some of my go – to’s, leave them in the comments! xo, Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

What's In My Fridge \\ Sweet Laurel

FOOD PHILOSOPHY IN ONE SENTENCE:

Eat wholesome yet delicious food every day.


 

ALWAYS IN MY FRIDGE:

Kale, coconut, chocolate, and crudité.


 

7 RECIPE STAPLES ALWAYS ON HAND:

For my recipes, pretty much any of them can be made if you have almond flour, coconut oil, Himalayan pink salt, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, coconut milk, and cacao.


 

MUST-HAVE MUNCHIES:

I am into accessible veggies: half an avocado, cut up celery, cucumber, carrots and cooked sweet potatoes. I am not a big snacker, but I am a big vegetable eater!


 

FAVE CONDIMENTS:

Our all-time favorite condiment is Sweet Laurel vegan caramel! Other condiments on the savory side I enjoy are Primal Kitchen Foods mayo and Kerrygold butter. Yes, butter. I developed a strong craving for it during my pregnancy, and I’ve been tolerating it well, so I enjoy it in moderation.


 

INGREDIENT THAT MAKES EVERYTHING TASTE BETTER:

When I cook, I love to use some delicious savory staples like garlic, Himalayan pink salt, apple cider vinegar and fun things like cayenne pepper. When I bake, a balance of moisture enriching, yet nutrient-dense ingredients make everything taste better. I work with five core ingredients at Sweet Laurel: almond flour, coconut oil, 100% maple syrup, organic eggs, and Himalayan pink salt. These are my star ingredients and the secret to a delicious grain-free, refined sugar-free and dairy-free treat that tastes delicious!


 

GO-TO PROTEINS:

Organic eggs, wild-caught fish, organic chicken, turkey, and beef.


 

BEST BARGAIN:

I buy in bulk whenever I can through health food stores and co-ops. This is great for spices, organic nuts and other frequently used items and pricier items.


 

BEST LABEL-READING TIP:

I always check for whole-food ingredients. If the foods originate from earth and are used in their natural form, I’m good with them.


 

FAVE VEGGIE + WHAT YOU MAKE WITH IT:

This changes, but currently I’m obsessed with making kale chips in the oven. It takes just a few minutes, and my salty, crunchy craving is usually taken care of shortly thereafter.


 

MUST-HAVE PANTRY STAPLES:

Sweet Laurel vanilla extract. We make our own, grain- and gluten-free, with tequila!


 

CRAZIEST THING I BUY:

The $30 coconut yogurt. Jam packed with probiotics, a little goes a long way. I’m definitely addicted.


 

SWEETS AND OTHER INDULGENCES:

I indulge in 100% cacao from Chocovivo every day. It is not a sweet per se, but an indulgence for sure. Made from cacao beans and stone ground into chocolate right here in Los Angeles.


 

DAIRY OR NON-DAIRY FAVES:

Like I said, hooked on coconut yogurt.


 

SKIP LABELS THAT READ:

‘High-fructose corn syrup,’ ‘cane sugar,’ etc.


 

FAVORITE SPLURGE:

I love supporting small food businesses. From time to time I will go to natural food stores and just pick up a few random food products, just to try them out!


 

FOR LAST MINUTE ENTERTAINING:

I whip up my snickerdoodles! Just five ingredients and delicious.


 

FAVORITE PLACES TO SHOP:

Erewhon Natural Foods, Rainbow Acres.


 

SIMPLE GO-TO RECIPE:

My brownies. Topped with our vegan caramel, you’re instantly in dessert heaven.


 

BEST FOOD MEMORY:

Making banana bread with my mom when I was five or six. I remember tasting the batter and being instantly hooked!

 

(Photo credit: Elsie Dardon)

Breastfeeding Nico \\ Sweet Laurel

Breastfeeding is one of the best parts of this new chapter of life with Nico. There are so many things that go into having a baby, giving birth to a baby and recovering from having a baby. For me, breastfeeding was an instant comfort, and gave me stamina, and empowered me as a mother. After the trials and triumphs of pregnancy and birth, it’s one of those little kisses from heaven, I like to say.  Having the time to just sit and do nothing but feed your baby and look at him, watch him eat, cuddle with him or take a little nap with him all quickly become a great joy.

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Learning how to breastfeed is the hard part. It took a while for me to learn how to properly latch Nico, burp him, hold him and how to make sure he ate enough. I am really grateful I had some awesome lactation consultants at Cedar Sinai hospital, where I gave birth. Even on day one, Jessica, my lactation consultant, visited me regularly and walked me through the ins and outs of properly feeding my baby.

Something I’ve learned as a new mom is to ask for help. I used to be one of those people who tried to muscle through everything on my own, never asking others to alleviate my burdens. Now that I’m a mom, I literally have to ask for help!  Breastfeeding was a totally new experience for me, and quickly saw I’d need to seek help from others. Using lactation consultants is an absolute must! Even after I was discharged from the hospital, I still needed a bit of help, and thankfully was referred to the Pump Station in Santa Monica. There I was coached by Jessica (yes, same name as my first lactation consultant), and she truly empowered me in my capabilities as a breastfeeding mother. Jessica really helped me feel like successfully breast-feeding Nico during his first year (and hopefully second year) is something natural and attainable.

I saw the results of breastfeeding not only with Nico’s body, but my own. Every inch of Nico’s growth was due to breastmilk. It is kind of a crazy concept! By the end of Nico’s second week, he gained two full pounds! He was ‘filling in’ by the day.  I thought he smelled like butter, and funny enough, I craved grass fed butter postpartum like crazy! I will talk more about my diet while breastfeeding in another post ;).

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Personally, there were lots of changes in my body as well when I started breast-feeding. To my surprise, my arms were sore for weeks after having Nico. I had always considered myself to have somewhat strong arms. I mean, after all I am a baker.  I did not expect that holding him and nursing him would take a toll on my thumbs of all things! Yes, my thumbs. You see, your thumbs bare the brunt of most of the mommy work…. holding baby’s head while nursing, picking him up out of his crib, pushing the stroller, and this list goes on! Thankfully, I worked with Alison Oswald for most of my postpartum physical therapy, and she helped me with my thumb also. It is actually called mommy thumb. The thumb tends to get overworked from just being a mom. Picking up your baby, pushing the stroller, changing diapers… it’s a lot of and work. As a baker, I use my hands every day as well, so there was already significant wear and tear. Allison taped my thumbs to encourage more circulation, and instantly they felt relief. She also encouraged my to use the ‘thumbs forward’ approach to picking up Nico, pushing the stroller and holding the steering wheel. I can honestly say these techniques, coupled with the taping helped immensely!

Yes, breastfeeding takes lots of time. But it is precious time. Breastfeeding also takes a ton of commitment. Often plans and outings are determined by the last time the baby ate or what time the baby will wake up.  While breastfeeding is very portable and easy to do almost anywhere, it is not always the right environment, like a fancy restaurant for example. Baby either needs to get fed before or after, and trust me, this timing is a tough one. I’ve learned the hard way many times, but it gets better week by week.

Another thing that has been lovely about breastfeeding is that it is a time dedicated to sitting and just feeding your baby. Nothing else. In this fast paced life, times of rest like this are hard to come by. I so enjoy laying on my bed while Nico feeds, it’s nice to take a break! Sometimes I do text and email while breastfeeding, but when I don’t, the reflective time is great. It is time you can just be with your baby and rest. It is much needed rest indeed, and I fully enjoy it. I’m so grateful for this gift I’ve been given, and that I am able to feed my baby. When I was pregnant, I was concerned my autoimmune disease would get in the way of my ability to breastfeed, and this positive experience breastfeeding has truly been a great gift.

Lately, I haven’t been looking forward to when Nico transitions to eating solid foods. I think it’s because I’m going to miss being his everything. I know it sounds silly, but I’ve been struggling thinking about the day he takes his first bite of solid food. He’s five months now, so it will actually be quite soon. Don’t get me wrong, I definitely plan to still breastfeed, I just will not be exclusively breastfeeding, and I’m going to miss it. I would love to hear your experiences, thoughts or feelings about breastfeeding! xoxox, Laurel

Photos by Elsie Dardon.

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Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Keep your belly happy and dishes brightened with Fermented Veggies!  They can be made in a snap, and require only an airtight glass jar, salt and the veggies of your choice.  You can play around with the different spices and add ins, making the veggies catered to your liking.

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies \\ Sweet Laurel

Fermented Veggies


 

Ingredients:

1 quart of water

2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

2 cups chopped cucumbers, daikon radish, asparagus or carrots

3 whole cloves of garlic

1/8 teaspoon mustard seed

1/8 teaspoon dill seed

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cabbage leaf


 

Directions:

Stir together salt and water. Chop peppers and carrots.

Add spices to the bottom of a one-quart jar. Add your vegetables, followed by the brine.  Cover the top of the vegetables with cabbage leaf. Cap the jar tightly and allow to sit in 65-85 degrees for about ten days.  For the first few days, check jar pressure: slightly unscrew lid to release pressure, then retighten lid.  Once fermentation is reached, store in fridge.

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Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Summer in a bowl! This salad is so refreshing, and most importantly: simple to prepare! Enjoy this salad at your next BBQ or summertime gathering. Guaranteed crowd pleaser.

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad \\ Sweet Laurel

Grilled Peach Salad

Serves 4


 

Ingredients:

4 cups arugula

3-4 peaches, sliced

1 shallot, sliced into thin strips

1/4 cup vegan cheese, crumbled (or make your own)

Lemon dressing (recipe below)


 

Directions:

Prepare grill.

Place arugula in a large bowl. Add pecans, shallots, and cheese. Set aside while you prepare peaches.

Grill peaches about 2-3 minutes on each side.

Toss with dressing and enjoy!


 

To prepare dressing


 

Ingredients:

Juice of 1 lemon

1/4 cup olive oil

1 clove of garlic

Pinch of salt

Fresh ground pepper to taste

Directions:

Place all ingredients for dressing in a small food processor or blender. Pulse for 1 minute. Dressing can be made ahead and will keep in fridge for 3-4 days.

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Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

One of our favorite ice cream shops is Kippy’s in Venice. Every flavor is created on the foundation of two simple ingredients: organic, raw coconut cream and organic, raw honey. If ice cream could be good for you, this is humanity’s best chance.  The flavors are delicious, and the raw coconut cream and honey are filled with fantastic enzymes, vitamins, and minerals. Plus, basically anyone can enjoy it, it’s gluten free, vegan, and raw. The flavor of the coconut cream and honey is so simple and pure, and the perfect canvas for a classic ice cream sundae. Here’s our version, but if you find yourself in Los Angeles or Tokyo this summer, be sure to check them out!

Vegan Banana Split2

Vegan Banana Split \\ Sweet Laurel

Vegan Banana Split

Vegan Banana Split


 

Ingredients:

1 pint coconut cream (Lets do Organic or Nature Value brand is what I like best), at room temperature

2 to 4 tablespoons raw honey, at room temperature (depending on desired taste)

Directions:

The night before you plan to make your ice cream, place your ice cream maker in the freezer. The next day, combine the coconut cream and honey by whisking together. Place in a bowl, cover with plastic wrap, and chill completely in the fridge.  Then run the mixture through your ice cream machine. Freeze until firm.

Note: if you don’t have an ice cream maker, you can try a variety of methods to make ice cream without one. My favorite is to pour the chilled mixture into a shallow dish, place it in the freezer, and every 30 minutes to stir it with electric beaters or a whisk. It will take about 2 hours for it to get the right consistency. 


 

To build the sundae


 

Ingredients:

1 banana, split

Vegan Caramel

Chopped nuts, to taste

Coconut whipped cream

Fresh Cherries

Directions:

Place the banana on a plate, add ice cream, and top with a drizzle of caramel, nuts, and a scoop of whipped cream. Finish with a cherry on top, of course.

Mezze Platter \\ Sweet Laurel

Sometimes the best dinner isn’t a dinner at all, but a picnic. Grazing and nibbling on dips, crackers and cashew feta can be so much more enjoyable than a formal sit down meal. These are some of our favorite small bites to snack on, and are the perfect addition to a summer outing! Enjoy.

Mezze Platter \\ Sweet Laurel

Mezze Platter \\ Sweet Laurel

Mezze Platter \\ Sweet Laurel

Mezze Platter \\ Sweet Laurel

Mediterranean Platter


 

Babagonoush


 

Ingredients: 

1 large eggplant

1/4 cup tahini

4 cloves garlic

2 lemons, squeezed

1 pinch cumin

1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 tablespoon chopped parsley

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350.

Peel and chop eggplant into one-inch slices. Place in colander with a pinch of salt and allow to sit about 20 minutes. Rinse eggplant and place on baking sheet. Place in oven and bake about 15 minutes. Flip eggplant and bake on the other side, about 8 minutes.  Remove from oven and allow to cool.

Remove eggplant from pan and place in food processor with tahini, garlic, lemon juice, cumin, and salt. Blend together. Top with olive oil and chopped parsley.


 

Cashew Feta


 

Ingredients: 

3/4 cup raw cashews

6 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 cup lemon juice

1 tablespoon tahini

1 1/4 teaspoon Himalayan salt

1 teaspoon cracked black pepper

Directions:

Place cashews in a bowl and cover with water. Soak overnight in fridge.

Rinse cashews and place in food processor with remaining ingredients, except black pepper. Blend until creamy, adding water if necessary.

Place mixture in cheesecloth and roll into a 6-inch oval loaf.  Place in strainer bowl and allow to sit at room temperature for 12 hours, then place in fridge.

Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Roll out cheesecloth into longer cylinder-like shape, about seven inches. Twist ends of cheesecloth together and bake about 35 minutes, turning occasionally. Cool and sprinkle with cracked pepper.


 

Olive Tapanade


 

Ingredients: 

1 cup olive oil-brined olives

1/4 cup parsley

1 clove garlic

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2 tablespoons lemon juice

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)

Directions:

Place all ingredients in a food processor and blend well. The olives are super salty, so definitely taste before adding any salt.


 

Marinated Peppers


 

Ingredients: 

1 quart of water

2 tablespoon Himalayan pink salt

2 carrots

2 anaheim peppers

1 jalapeno pepper

1 banana pepper

3 whole cloves of garlic

1/8 teaspoon mustard seed

1/8 teaspoon dill seed

1/8 teaspoon coriander

1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 cabbage leaf

Directions:

Stir together salt and water.  Chop peppers and carrots.

Add spices to the bottom of a one-quart jar.  Add your vegetables, followed by the brine.  Cover the top of the vegetables with cabbage leaf. Cap the jar tightly and allow to sit in 65-85 degrees for about ten days. For the first few days, check jar pressure: slightly unscrew lid to release pressure, then retighten lid.  Once fermentation is reached, store in fridge.


 

Rosemary Flaxseed Crackers


 

Ingredients: 

For 1 large sheet of crackers, about a dozen

1 cup flax seeds

¼ teaspoon fine sea salt (plus more to sprinkle on top)

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1/2 teaspoon chopped rosemary

1 garlic clove, minced

2 large egg whites

Directions:

Preheat oven to 300° degrees F

Mix flaxseeds, rosemary and fine sea salt in a large bowl. Pour large white egg over the dry ingredients and mix well to combine with a fork.

Pour the batter out onto a baking sheet lined with a silicon mat or a greased parchment. Spread as thinly as possible with a spatula. Use a sharp knife or pizza cutter to cut across the batter. This won’t “cut” the way a cookie cutter cuts through dough, but it will create lines that make it way easier to break up the crackers after they’ve baked.

Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until completely dry and crisp. Cool on cooling rack, break apart and store in airtight container for up to 2 weeks.